Food culture in the Netherlands

Food culture in the Netherlands
When looking at a map of the world and thinking about the culinary identity of all the various countries, you might come to the conclusion that the Netherlands doesn’t rank high on your list or – let’s be honest – is probably missing in action completely. Northern European countries are not known for their exciting cuisine and the Netherlands is no exception to the rule. The Dutch don’t boast about their original ‘farmer’s cuisine’, although our ancestors did manage to get some hearty and tasty dishes out of it that most people still eat on a cold winter’s day, such as ‘stamppot’ – mashed potato with kale, sausage and gravy – or ‘erwtensoep’ – a green pea soup garnished with sausage, bacon and rye bread (don’t worry, vegetarian options are available)! However, even if the native cuisine isn’t to your liking, thanks to the Netherlands’ multicultural melting pot you’ll be able to go on a culinary trip all over the world without ever skipping town! The countless authentic restaurants that our small country offers, cover about every cuisine on the globe. Just make sure you get there on time!

Dinner time!
The Dutch tend to start the day early, with breakfast between 7 or 8 AM. This also means that our lunchtime (1/1.30 PM) is considered as being quite early by most foreigners, as is dinner around 6. But if you think that these mealtimes are dictated by a lack of joie de vivre, think again! The Dutch start the day early because of work and whereas in Southern European countries office hours as well as mealtimes are dictated by the sun and accompanying heat, our mild sea climate doesn’t get in the way of anything. If you were to be out and about during the weekend, you’ll find that lots of people go out for coffee and cake, lunch, and dinner. Even in winter, as soon as the first rays of sunshine appear, terraces are packed with people wearing blankets that are provided by the restaurants and bars, sitting as close to the heaters as humanly possible. However, if you are from a country where all-night dining is an option, please keep in mind that restaurant kitchens might close earlier than you’re used to. Usually, restaurants close their kitchen at 10 PM.

(Food) shopping!
Shops in the Netherlands generally close at 6 PM, with the exception of the weekly ‘koopavond’, a weekday night on which shops stay open until 9 or 10 PM. Most of the larger supermarkets stay open until 10 PM every day of the week although this can vary in small villages and on Sundays. If you find that your local supermarket has already closed, there’s still the option of visiting a night shop or an off-license; these are usually open all night long. Again, you might find that rural villages don’t have as many night shops as the big cities (if any). If you’re unsure about the opening times of your local shops and supermarkets, you can usually find this information online. Click here to visit the Culture & leisure part of The Life Net to read more about all the fun and tasty things you can get up to in our special part of the Netherlands.